It is a virtual epidemic. One in 88 American children is diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Earlier this week, Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, held a hearing on how the federal government can better respond to the dramatic rise in autism rates. Yet for all this concern, one large affected group is being routinely overlooked: the siblings. Of the 839 studies reported within the past four years in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, only four were devoted to siblings, and their primary focus was on genetic risk rather than life experience.

(MORE:What to Make of the New Autism Numbers)

Over the past five years, I conducted in-depth interviews with a nonclinical population of 35 siblings of children with autism, and their pain, grit and silent endurance was akin to…

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